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Project Management Certification: The PMP


June 30, 2003

On time and on budget... What a concept! No doubt if you have been in IT for any length of time you have been part of a project. Whether it is a software rollout, ERP implementation, or network project of some sort, you may have well been on a team that was responsible for getting some technological infrastructure built, revamped, or overhauled. Projects can come in all sizes, but each project has a stated goal, resource needs, and time frame for successful testing and completion. As you can imagine, when the scope and breadth of a rollout, or related project, grows bigger - the need for resources, resource management, and time management will be greater. This is where a trained project manager or team of project managers can be an asset that helps you get crucial IT projects done on time and on budget.

What constitutes a "trained" project manager? Too often, the "trained" project manager is the senior person in the IT department. Many times this person does not have true project management skills, and it is possible this person may have to combine project management duties with an already full plate of senior-level IT duties. When scenarios such as this occur, true management of resources, human and equipment, as well as time management can take a back seat to other duties. This can translate into a project that runs too long and too much project capital can potentially be spent when time runs long and resources are not properly planned for and allocated.

What is the answer that many organizations are turning too? More and more, organizations are finding that hiring a project manager specifically trained in the profession of project management will give them the edge needed to get projects completed on time and on budget. Having a trained person to manage time frames, plan and allocate resources, and communicate among different members of a project team will enhance the likelihood that the project will complete successfully and your IT staff members can focus on what they do best, IT.

The Project Management Professional Certification (PMP)

If the project management realm is an interest of yours, many avenues for training exist. Colleges, training centers, as well as books and online learning materials exist to train you. The pinnacle for measuring project management education and experience is the rapidly growing PMP certification offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI).

PMI is an organization 100,000 strong across the world. It is dedicated to the advancement of the project management profession, and can be located on the web at www.pmi.org. PMI has several project management certifications, but it is the PMP that has grown the fastest and proven to be the benchmark that the project management world measures itself. PMI states that approximately 50,000 have achieved the PMP. Market demands show that many other project managers aspire to get this certification because many organizations are requiring PMP certification for open project manager positions.

In order to become PMP certified you must fulfill the following requirements:

  • When applying to take the exam you must have 4,500 verifiable hours of project management experience within the five project management process groups (see www.pmi.org for more information on these process areas). To be held only to the 4,500 hours limit you must also possess a baccalaureate degree or global equivalent university degree. If you don't have a degree from an accredited college or university, the following bullet describes the scenario you must meet.
  • When applying without a baccalaureate degree or global equivalent university degree you must have 7,500 verifiable hours of project management experience within the five project management process groups.
  • Along with verifiable education and/or experience, you must sign and abide by a Code of Professional Conduct provided by PMI.
  • Also, after successfully passing the PMP exam you must also successfully complete 60 hours of continuing education credit within an exam life cycle. Typically what this means is you will need to complete these 60 hours within a 3-year period. The continuing credits are called PDU's and approximately one hour in an approved, structured educational setting equals one PDU.

For more details on required work experiences, educational requirements, and continuing credit policies visit www.pmi.org and select Certifications under the "Professional Development and Careers" menu. From here you can select more information on the PMP.

What's on the PMP Exam

If you have the credentials to pursue the PMP exam, you may be curious as to what you will be tested on by the PMP exam. The exam itself is 200 multiple choice questions, and you must score a 137 to pass. The following list the knowledge areas you must master for this exam:

  • Project Initiation
  • Project Planning
  • Project Execution
  • Project Control
  • Project Closing
  • Professional Responsibility

In sum, these topics will comprise an exam that will test you on your knowledge of project management, tools used, and techniques mastered. Many questions are situational; so it is advised that as you study you should heavily review actions you have taken in past projects.

Study Materials and the PMBOK

Many study materials exist for the PMP. If you need advice on what materials to choose or what training to attend it is advised that you seek out a local chapter of PMI to network with other project management professionals for this advice. Also, many local chapters offer training and educational opportunities. Also, local training centers and colleges are beginning to offer project management classes. Since the exam tests your knowledge of the practice of project management it is advised to get more than one source for study so you can get a broad range of views and experiences from different authors.

One book you absolutely must have is the PMBOK. This stands for the Project Management Body of Knowledge. PMI offers this body of knowledge under the name of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK. Guide). This is the guiding set of knowledge that spells out what PMI expects you to know for the exam. This is important because while the exam tests you on experience and practical "know-how", to pass the exam you have to know PMI's views, nomenclature, and thoughts when it comes to project management processes. In other words, the terms and techniques you use may not necessarily be correct according to PMI.

Conclusions

There is no doubt that the field of project management is growing rapidly. Not only is this field growing in the IT space, it is growing in fields such as construction, engineering, and medicine. More and more, one can find avenues for quality training in this field as well. If you do not have the prerequisites to take the PMP exam, don't fret — take some training and begin to build your experience levels so you can pursue the PMP. Passing the PMP exam will highlight your mastery of project management abilities, and the pursuit of continuing education requirements needed to keep your PMP status will ensure that you stay on the cutting edge with this growing and vibrant field.

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